Sunit Roy

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

After Pulse's success, the hard-boiled candy segment has seen a lot of activity from rival brands vying for the same consumers. Alpenliebe is the latest in the list.

In 2015, the DS Group - marketer of brands such as Rajnigandha (Pan Masala), Baba (Tobacco) and Catch (spices) - entered the candy segment with the launch of Pass Pass 'Pulse'. Within a couple of years of its launch, the kaccha aam-flavoured hard-boiled candy (HBC) with a tangy twist (that fans call the 'magical core' or 'masala bomb') turned in sales worth Rs 300 crore. But that's not the end of the story.

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Alpenliebe Chatpata's latest TVC

The advent of DS Group's candy made consumers shift from an impulse to Pulse with its differentiated experience. As a result, HBC became the fastest growing segment in the non-gum, non-chocolate (NGNC) category. Thus, a sub-segment of tangy, powder-filled candies was created. Since then, many organised and unorganised players launched their brands/products to capitalise on the momentum built by Pulse. The latest to jump onto the tangy fruit candy wagon is Perfetti Van Melle - India's 'Alpenliebe Chatpata'.

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Some of the popular hard-boiled candy brands
Click on the image to enlarge

Available for Rs 1, Alpenliebe Chatpata has a sour mango shell and liquid filled core. The brand's new TVC as part of the marketing campaign, was conceptualised and created by McCann Worldgroup and features Boman Irani.

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Parle Kaccha Mango Bite launched in June 2004

The HBC category has an interesting history. Few people will recall the first packaged hard-boiled candy with a tangy twist - Googly; it was quite popular in the 1990s. In 2004, Parle launched Kaccha Mango Bite, that also became quite popular with the masses. In 2013, ITC launched an ad campaign to announce the arrival of Candyman Natkhat Mango to the market.

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Pass Pass 'Pulse', the candy brand from the DS Group, launched in 2015

But the real game-changer in the category arrived in 2015 with Pass Paas 'Pulse'. Since then, the DS group has been launching different variants of the candy - Pulse Orange and Guava (2016), Pineapple (2017), and Lichi (2018).

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Candyman Natkhat Mango campaign launched in 2013

Following suit, ITC launched Candyman Tadka in Pineapple and Kaccha Aam flavours in 2017. Other popular brands operating in this category are Panjon's Swad centre-filled candy (Kaccha Aam, Imli, Lemon, and Guava), Baba Fru Kik (Imli, Kaccha Aam and Jeera), Jerico's Jumpers fruity-flavoured candy (available in Kacha Aam, Guava, Emli, Kala Khatta, Pineapple, and Lemon), Keo candy, and Tangi Mango by Rebel.

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Swad's brand campaign celebrated the release of 'Veere Di Wedding' movie

So, is Alpenliebe feeling the heat due to the immense popularity of Pulse Candy?

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Rohit Kapoor

"With the growth of the tangy fruit segment, we felt this was the right time for Alpenliebe to expand its portfolio and participate here. This was backed by robust consumer insight and a strong product development process, which ensures that we delight our consumers," says Rohit Kapoor - director marketing, Perfetti Van Melle (PVM) India.

"Green is a category code signifying the tangy raw-mango flavour and Alpenliebe Chatpata shares the same. But that's where the similarities end. Alpenliebe Chatpata is a truly differentiated product. We introduced chatpata flavours in Jellies last year and it will soon be introduced in the Gums category as well," Kapoor adds.

Alpenliebe Chatpata's campaign spans multiple mediums. While TV continues to be a large part of the spends, the brand is investing in digital, on ground, out of home, and POSM in key markets targeting kids and families (25+ year bracket).

Taking the category conversation further

The tangy fruit segment contributes about 10-12 per cent of the HBC category and is growing in healthy double-digits. However, the candy market in India has always been fragmented and intensely competitive, especially with players in the 50 paise price point.

"We have lined up a strong commercial plan for Alpenliebe Chatpata which includes differentiated offerings (housing it under Alpenliebe), sharp communication, trade incentives, and the right trade margin structure to compete in this market," informs Kapoor.

Interestingly, Pulse gave the industry the much-needed confidence to move the price-point from 50 paise to Rs 1. Now the brand has embarked on the next innovation 'Pulse Zero', priced at Rs 2, and caters to the health conscious.

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Shashank Surana

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

B Krishna Rao

According to Shashank Surana, vice president, new product development, DS Group, "More players mean more innovation. In the last few years, the focus of the industry has shifted to creating experiences that are unique to the brand and differentiates it. With a focus on consumer needs, taste and preferences, brands can expect consumer loyalty in the long run."

Surana believes that all this will eventually benefit the industry which is now growing at a better pace. It's imperative that all brands create their own niche with either product, flavour or format differentiation.

B Krishna Rao, senior category head, Parle Products, agrees that Pulse has definitely created ripples in the market at the Rs 1 price point. Candyman Tadka is another strong rival brand in the category, which would make Alpenliebe Chatpata a late entrant.

Rao says, "The brand shouldn't have launched the new product under the Alpenliebe umbrella as it is recognised as Lacto candy. I think there is a disconnect and it may not be a very good move from the brand." Rao also accepts that other than Pulse, no other brand has been able to make inroads into the category. In fact, Pulse developed the masala-filled/spicy centre as a category.

He highlights that there's a lack of brand loyalty in the category due to a low involvement price point and the distribution challenge most of the brands operating in this category face.

Hence, in the cluttered candy market, for a new brand like 'Alpenliebe Chatpata', the challenge remains creating opportunities for trial generation and drive placement. Additionally, the communication plays a critical role to create initial awareness about the proposition and the right message to trigger trials.

"We are leveraging our direct and indirect distribution strength to reach the right outlets across the country. We hope this will not only lead to a successful launch but also create opportunities for further innovation in the category," says Kapoor.

Over to Experts

By launching 'Alpenliebe Chatpata', will PVM be able to regain its lost share? And will the campaign succeed in creating mass acceptance? We asked the experts.

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Jagdeep Kapoor

Pulse adds masala to candy category; rivals get active

Ramanujam Sridhar

According to Jagdeep Kapoor, CMD, Samsika Marketing Consultants, all major players in the candy market would like to participate in this growing category. More than 'eating into' other brands, it is the FOMO (fear of missing out) that is driving the entry into the category. Each player will grow the category and all will benefit. Their distribution strength, apart from advertising, will surely help.

He adds, "The sheer participation will make this category brand conscious, rather than commodity price conscious. This is a turning point in this category as it moves from being a commodity to a brand."

Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO and founder - Brand-Comm, opines that if a brand has to keep pace with what's happening, it has to observe emerging trends in the marketplace - be a bit paranoid about the changes that may affect a consumer or competition.

"Alpenliebe has been one of the most successful confectionery brands launched in the last 15-20 years. The significant difference that I can see is that now, this category is more of a young-adult category and not necessarily the '8-14 years' bracket which all the confectionery brands have been targeting. In this case, the commercial has a grandfather as the protagonist and not the kid. Also, people are using hard-boiled candy as mouth-fresheners or after smoking. As a brand, Alpenliebe is seeing an opportunity in the category and doesn't want to be left out," he says.

As far as the ad is concerned, Sridhar says that the brand name comes across strongly.

Brand Credits

Client: Perfetti Van Melle India

Rohit Kapoor, Marketing Director

Paritosh Gupta, Associate Category Director

Saurabh Suri, Group Product Manager

Srishti Mohapatra, Product Manager


Agency: McCann Worldgroup

Creative team: Prasoon Joshi, Kapil Batra, Gourav Verma, Jeet Kalra

Account Management team: Richa Bhatia

Production house - Early Man Film Pvt Ltd

Director - Abhinav Pratiman

EP - Anand Menon

Producer - Amarjeet Phukan

DOP - Tanay Satam

Music Director - Abhishek Arora

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